Here we are, mid-December and our first couple hard frosts have really cooled things off. On the water yesterday it was actually a really nice day, but the air temps did not climb above the 40’s so it was really chilly. I hate being cold (which is kinda funny because I’m originally from western NY, you know, near Buffalo), so I have learned to invest in really good clothes to fish in. One of my native southerner friends told me “you’re a southerner by choice, it just took you longer to get here”!
If you do it right, you won’t have to wear so many layers you can’t move. Get a real good base layer long underwear, one or 2 mid-layers and a nice Gore-Tex jacket and you will be comfortable. We offer the best of the best of base layers at our shop (Wool Power) – its expensive stuff, but worth the money. There are plenty of other options for a budget also, cold-pruf is one.
Another thing I always like to emphasize this time of year is safety. If you are fishing solo, do yourself and your family and friends a favor by always wearing a life jacket, and use your tether! Every year it seems we hear of a fisherman being killed by the cold water. You have literally seconds to survive in the cold water, because your muscles will seize up, keeping you from being able to swim. Wear your PFD, it will save your life.
OK, enough lecturing 🙂
I’m gonna talk a little about cold water redfish.
Everyone knows this time of year they bunch up on the flats in huge schools. So much fun to see and to catch them. The fight ain’t much, it’s more like dragging in a log pretty much. I’m not a huge fly fisherman but I’ve done my share and learned by trial and error that a killer offering for these fish is a simple unweighted deceiver. I just tie a sparse amount of buck tail on a hook with a little dab of adhesive and you will find it lands super light and sinks very slowly. Often you just need to let it suspend as a school passes by and one will pick it up.
Another thing reds do is collect on deep structure. Sometimes you would not believe how many fish can fit in a 10 foot diameter spot. I’ve personally seen 50 fish caught out of the same spot several times. Of course, if you miss the spot you will never know they were there. Find the spot and its on! Things to look for is deep rubble, rocks or concrete. Also, fallen trees or shrubs. Maybe a slight hole nearby any of the above. These fish will often be in 10 to 20 feet of water. Use your sonar to find likely spots and drop down and jig around. This time of year I always ask SCDNR to double up on my tags as I can easily go through 25 in a single day. To present your offering to these fish you need to go REALLY slow. Think 2″ hops. The pickup will be barely perceptible sometimes. The best way to describe it is that it feels “weird”. Count to 2 then set the hook. Try it!
It’s a whole lot of fun, and remember conservation – handle them with care and release them to be caught again. A fish is too valuable to be caught only once!